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Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Turkish Connection

by digby

Well hell. I don't even know what to say about this:
Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’sformer national security adviser, vetoed a plan to attack the so-called Islamic State’s capital of Raqqa in Syria in January ― a position that aligned with the desires of Turkey, which had paid him $530,000 to represent its interests, McClatchy reported Wednesday night.
But Flynn, a retired general, hadn’t always backed the views of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime, as HuffPost first reported last year. Quite the opposite: Last July, Flynn praised a coup attempt against Erdogan, criticizing the Turkish leader for being too close to President Barack Obama and calling the coup “worth clapping for.”

Flynn shifted to supporting Erdogan only after a Dutch company headed by a man with ties to Erdogan’s government hired his intelligence firm in early August. By November, Flynn had flip-flopped entirely. “We need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective,” he wrote in an opinion piece published on Election Day. “We must begin with understanding that Turkey is vital to U.S. interests. Turkey is really our strongest ally against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as a source of stability in the region.”

Wednesday’s McClatchy report adds a dimension to this flip-flop. Flynn had demagogued for years about the supposed dangers of Muslims and Islam. “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” he tweeted in February. “Islam is not a real religion, but a political ideology masked behind a religion,” he claimed.

ISIS received special attention in Flynn’s harangues. He told The New Yorker in February that Obama had “too narrowly defined” efforts to defeat the group and called for “fighting these guys on the battlefield.”

But when the Obama administration asked the Trump administration in mid-January to approve a plan ― fiercely opposed by Turkey ― to arm Syrian Kurds to retake Raqqa from ISIS, Flynn, who was being paid by Turkey, balked.

“Don’t approve it,” Flynn said, according to a February report in The Washington Post cited by McClatchy. (Turkey opposes arming the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, because it believes the YPG has ties to the PKK, an organization of Kurdish fighters in Turkey that both Turkey and the U.S. have listed as a terrorist group.)

The Trump administration knew at the time ― and, indeed, before Trump appointed Flynn ― that the FBI was investigating him for secretly serving as a paid agent of Turkey while campaigning for Trump, The New York Times reported Wednesday night.

But Trump listened to the paid Turkish agent who was also serving as his national security adviser anyway, and the operation against the ISIS capital was delayed for months. The president continued to allow Flynn to sit in on national security briefings, as he had throughout the last months of the campaign and through the transition ― all times during which he was being paid by Turkey.

Trump has known this for a while. And yet rports have it that he's desperate to talk to Flynn and wishes more than anything that he could have him back. He's the one guy Trump trusted above all others. And yet he did all that.

Meanwhile, here's some footage of Turkish president Erdogan's bodyguards assaulting protesters in the middle of Washington on the day of his visit:

Robert Mackey of the Intercept reported:
Casting aside his predecessor’s concerns about human rights abuses and the suppression of free speech in another nation, Donald Trump lavished praise on another autocratic foreign leader on Tuesday, calling it “a great honor to welcome the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to the White House.”

Just hours after Trump focused his remarks on “the exemplary valor of the Turkish soldier,” however, Erdogan’s presidential bodyguards were caught on video punching and kicking protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington.

Images recorded by the Turkish-language service of Voice of America, a Congressionally funded broadcaster, showed the Turkish security guards battering about a dozen demonstrators, after scuffles between the protesters and Erdogan supporters.

Another witness captured video of the aftermath, as some of those injured in the attack received treatment, and an Erdogan supporter stomped on the flag of a Syrian Kurdish group that is fighting the Islamic State with the support of the United States.

Far from disputing that Erdogan’s security team was involved in the melee, a state news agency confirmed it, reporting, inaccurately, that the president’s team had been forced to step in because the American police had failed to stop an “unauthorized protest” by supporters of a Kurdish terrorist group.

A pro-government newspaper, Yeni Safak, also blamed the DC police for not stifling the protest, and claimed that the Kurdish protesters had “shouted racist slogans against Turkey and attacked Turkish citizens.”
Reports have it that the Turkish "bodyguards" have left the country so there will be no accountability.

WTF is going on here?